Mommy, where do videos go when they die?

Ever since our appearance on The One Show last year, people with boxes, attics, lofts, basements and garages full of unwanted videos have been calling. Understandably, most people don’t want a bunch of old VHS to continue taking up space and collecting dust in their homes.

The recycling plant for VHS, previously in Bristol, has closed down. Charity shops are packed to the rafters with the darned unsaleable things. So I understand why, after hearing about our store, with its wall of VHS, people would think we might be just the ticket for finally dispensing with one’s home collection of unloved movies.

Unfortunately, we don’t always want them either.

Most of the time it’s because we already have them. Our collection is a little over 19,000 strong (mostly DVD, a couple hundred Blu-ray and a couple thousand VHS). If something is super rare – say you have some video nasties – then yeah, we’d take those. But, tends to be that if you do have such beasts you either a) don’t want to offload ’em or b) do but know that they’re worth summat, so you take to eBay. Much as we’d like to have those puppies, we’re a video shop and it’s 2016 so, you know, we can’t really afford to pay £200 a pop for summat that may never even see the light of rental day.

What happens, then, to the hundreds and thousands of VHS in your homes?

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Unless you’re super recycle conscious, it’s unlikely you can be bothered to take them apart and separately recycle the individual components. So, I dare say, many of them turn to landfill.

And that’s what’s likely to happen with all those DVDs you’re amassing, too.

Despite the decline of home entertainment sales – and the close to obliteration of the rental industry – DVDs, and indeed Blu-rays, are still being made. But even if they’re picked up for a pound or two in the sale bins, it’s unlikely you’ll keep them forever.

Maybe you will re-watch Die Hard, and All About Eve. But will you really return to The Knowing? That’s a stretch, and I say this as a bona fide Nic Cage devotee.

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This is not my way of making a case for the internet. Rather, it’s my way of pointing out how sad the fate of so many physical copies of movies truly is. It’s also why a rental store is the kind of thing you ought to support.

We’re actually more environmentally friendly and cost effective than physically buying the stuff yourself. And we don’t throw stuff away just because it’s a bit crap – we have plenty of terrible movies and we intend to keep ’em for as long as you want to come rent ’em. What we have become is a sort of library. We keep stuff as best we can (including donations of stuff we don’t have, just that we can’t take duplicates) which means our selection is bigger and better than the majority of what’s available through online streaming platforms. We don’t have everything and we are aware of that, but we have a lot.

However, and this is the point I really want to make, what we don’t do is add to the problem of rampant consumerism and landfill culture. We’re not into making you buy stuff at an accelerated rate so that you can fill your homes with crap and we don’t throw out a tonne of films to landfill – even when our collection of ex-rentals is blocking access to the counter. Kinda like it is right now.

So stumble on in, make your way through the trenches of display cases and find something to watch without contributing to the great plastic waste. We’ll do our best to remain a repository for things you might like to see but not own. Because we’re just about the closest thing that there is to home entertainment heaven.

 

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Christmas Giveaway

I fracking love Christmas movies. Even the bad ones. In fact, sometimes I especially like the bad ones (except Love Actually, obvs). So, I thought I might like to reward someone else who also likes Christmas movies.

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To that end, if you wanna win a prize, you can answer the following ten questions about ten great Christmas flicks, email them to us at: info[at]20thcenturyflicks[dot]co[dot]uk and, if you’re lucky – it’ll take a Christmas miracle! – you might just win yourself ten free rentals. 

  1. Nicolas Cage is in a Christmas movie. We have it in the shop. What’s it called?
  2. There’s a movie about a man taking his geese to market that’s set at Christmas time. What’s the name of the actor who plays that man?
  3. Billy Bob is the opposite of a Good Santa. In that movie he has a love interest and she was in a TV show. What TV show was she in?
  4. Barbara Stanwyck’s in a Christmas movie. Which is awesome. She steals something. What does she steal?
  5. Which famous British film had its titular concept inspired by Brief Encounter?
  6. The Brain Gremlin in Gremlins 2: The New Batch references a famous American writer and critical and political thinker. What’s her name?
  7. Diane Keaton stars in this year’s Christmas family cinema release Love the Coopers. Which other family Christmas flick did she star in some ten years earlier?
  8. Hulk Hogan was in a very silly Christmas movie. We don’t have it in the shop. But it involves something cray in the caves beneath an orphanage. What that?
  9. What colour are the Martians that Santa conquers?
  10. Which muppet gets mistaken for the Grinch on his way to the bank?

Good luck and have yourself a merry little Christmas… x

Nicolas Cage Fest: Coming to a Kino Near You

This Scalarama, 20th Century Flicks are bringing the tiniest festival to the tiniest cinema in Bristol. Across three Wednesday nights in September (9th, 16th & 23rd), we (I) intend to screen three Nic Cage movies in the Flicks Kino.

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While this means there’ll only be eleven seats available for each screening, it’s also an opportunity for Cage fans across Bristol (there must be at least eleven of us) to get together and revel in the gloriousness of the great, mesmeric man.

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There’ll also be a couple of Cage-related competitions: Best Dressed Cage (extra points for efforts to recreate specific film examples of his ever-evolving hairline), Best Cage Impression (you perform it, we decipher the film/era), and a quick round of Cage Trivia. Prizes will take the shape of free rentals, of Nicolas Cage movies. Attendees will be encouraged to enthuse about Cage in what I promise to provide as a safe environment.

But, before we (I) get too carried away with the fun stuff, it might be a good idea to think about the limitations of only showing three NC films. It’s tough to select just three from the man’s vast and impressive filmography. And it is nigh impossible to showcase every era of his hairline in just three sittings.

Still, in the interests of best pleasing those likely to attend (someone will join me, right?), I’d like to take a wee poll on which films you’d be most keen to pay money to come see.

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Program 1: Cagey in Love

Wild at Heart

Raising Arizona

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Program 2: Caged Animal

Con Air

Face/Off

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Program 3: A Cage of crippling debts

Drive Angry

The Wickerman

If you have preferences from each of the cagetories, lemme know in the comments section below.

Until September…

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How well do you know your local video shop?

Welcome to our month of May giveaway competition!

We thought we’d test your general video shop knowledge. There are ten questions, they’re multiple choice and, if you follow our social media and come into the shop fairly regularly, they ought to be super easy. To enter, you simply need to email your answers to: info[at]20thcenturyflicks[dot]co[dot]uk with ‘How well do you know your local video shop’ in the subject header. Tell us your name as well and that’s you entered.

Now, because we anticipate loads of you will score a clean ten out of ten, there will be an element of luck involved. It’ll probably be some kind of random algorithm. That decision will be final. The winner will receive TEN FREE RENTALS.

Lastly, a disclaimer: we will not accept bribes or give out answers over the phone, via email, social media or in human form. Unless you serenade us, then we might consider it.*

* It’s worth stating that I have not consulted with my colleagues and they may not want a serenade. In fact, the more I think about it the more certain I am that they definitely will not want a serenade. 

Alright then, let’s get on with the questionnaire:

1. How many Daves are there working at 20th Century Flicks?

a) One

b) Two

c) Three

d) Four

2. Which film magazine does Flicks carry a ‘neighbourhood copy’ of? 

a) Sight & Sound

b) Little White Lies

c) Electric Sheep

d) Film Comment

3. Which ex-member of staff visits regularly and hand writes recommendations? 

a) Kelly

b) Becky

c) Shelly

d) Mary

4. Which two voices run the Flicks social media? 

a) Austrian feminist + Salisbury stoner

b) Australian stoner + Salisbury feminist

c) Austrian stoner + Shrewsbury feminist

d) Australian feminist + Shrewsbury stoner

5. Which Peter Jackson film is only available to rent on VHS? 

a) Heavenly Creatures

b) Bad Taste

c) Brain Dead

d) Meet the Feebles

6. How many seats does the Kino have? 

a) 10

b) 11

c) 12

d) 14

7. Who hosts the Flicks pub quiz? 

a) DJWillSpinz + Mr Bags

b) DJMeNizzle + Mr Bags

c) DJWillSpinz + Mr Basket

d) DJMeNizzle + Mr Basket

8. At which cinema does Flicks host a monthly film night?

a) Watershed

b) Orpheus

c) Cube

d) Showcase Cinema de Lux

9. Which movie is the Flicks mascot taken from? 

a) Nurse Betty

b) The Notorious Bettie Page

c) Betty Blue

d) Babette’s Feast

10. Which actor does Flicks have a shelf dedicated to? 

a) Ryan Gosling

b) Bruce Willis

c) Nicolas Cage

d) Kevin Costner

Please die of the light

It’s no secret that there’s a direct correlation between my return to Flicks and the increase in our holding of Nicolas Cage movies. And while it’s almost impossible to come into the store these days without having some sort of Cage related conversation, I can admit that not all of the films he stars in are actually any good (though I do think he’s good).

After the incomprehensible rapture related drama Left Behind hit our shelves I was sure we hit the bottom of the Nic Cage barrel. Then we got Dying of the Light.

maxresdefault (1)I’m kidding – truth be told, I’d definitely place Left Behind as the worst film Cage has appeared in. The DVD box doesn’t even bother matching its promotional images to the film inside it! Puzzling. Plus it doesn’t seem to have a screenplay. Still, it can be enjoyed on some level; a ‘wow I found Chad Michael Murray’s acting career and the rapture is happening to it!’ kind of level, or maybe even in a ‘who ever said you need production values to make a movie?’ kind of way. The problem for Dying of the Light, however, is that it’s just your bog standard, run of the mill, crap movie.

DYING OF THE LIGHTThe premise for the film is fairly bland; Cage is an ageing CIA operative who can’t let go of the past and doesn’t want a desk job. Unfortunately for him, the powers that be want him to move on from the past and, owing to various issues that range from his ill health, general inability to do a decent job and Cage-brand shoutiness, would like to see him push papers around for a living instead. Even covert ops has admin.

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Poor Cage. But for all of his intense shouting, there’s an equal dose of Anton Yelchin being hoarse, which is actually somewhat entertaining. I think it’s supposed to make him sound like an adult; or maybe he just really wants to be the next Liam Neeson… shame he doesn’t have a particular set of skills.

But boring plot and overacting aside, the real reason the film is so bad is because the screenplay is crap. I know the story behind the movie is a series of tear-jerker excuses from Schrader and his cinematographer about how the film was taken away from them and bastardised; cut, colour-graded, scored and mixed without their input (more on that over here and elsewhere on the interwebs.) but, personally, I don’t think that even an art aesthetic could improve a script filled with hysterical xenophobic jibes like,

What kind of name is that anyway? / It’s Kenyan.

and

You smell something? / Mombasa.

nic-cage_dying-lightIf you go with what’s on Wikipedia, the whole thing could have been a very different movie indeed – directed by Winding Refn (who instead made Drive, a fair alternative) and starring Harrison Ford (still shouty, but would surely have been far less intense – oh the shiver one gets down one’s spine when Nicolas Cage stares intently into the distance, or at anything, anywhere, ever) – it might even have been a half decent high octane action/thriller. But I doubt it. It would still have Schrader’s unbearable dialogue and not even thinly veiled anti-everything that isn’t “American values” rantings. And even those are confused.

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For Schrader the ‘values’ have been seriously compromised. He sees the “American way of life” as a religion of “promiscuity and pop culture”. But he doesn’t really elaborate on what the original values that came before are. What exactly does he want to hold onto? Well, I know he thinks the CIA “fell from the Berlin Wall” and that the “Best and brightest” either “quit or retire”, so something is being let go.

If Cage’s character is the ‘best and brightes’t who hasn’t ‘quit or retired’ (as if those were to be avoided at all costs, including the life of anOther and the mental and physical health of one’s self) then the most worrying element to come out of these dull, toilet-like ninety minutes, is that Schrader probably thinks pretty highly of himself and, I suspect, is not planning on quitting or retiring any time soon. One can only hope that the rapture really does happen, and then maybe he’ll die, of the light, and stop making movies.

Cage is good though, innit.